Beyond the Thanksgiving Table

By: Katie Austin

In just a few short days, Thanksgiving will be here and we will be gathering around the family table to feast and reflect. This is by far one of my favorite holidays, not just because of the delicious food that will be savored, but more importantly because we will be with family and friends. We will each pause for a few minutes to answer a simple question: What are you thankful for?

Give thanks

A simple question with many possible answers. A question that is asked every year at this time when we gather around the holiday dinner table. What am I thankful for? My thoughts also include who I am thankful for.

As I sit here typing my next installment for the Every Woman Blog, I begin to ponder possible answers to this question. There is so much that I am thankful for! How do I sum it up into a few short sentences? Maybe the answer to the question is no one answer? The intent of the question is for you to reflect and let those close to you know how blessed you are to have them in your life.

“Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received.
Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling.
Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.”
– Henry Van Dyke

 Then, as I execute the next keystroke on my laptop, it hits me. I get it now. The question I should also be asking is not just “what” or “who” I am thankful for, but “when” am I thankful. It’s like I reached up and turned on the light bulb over my head! I understand now.

What about the other 364 days of the year?

Yes, we should each take time during the holiday season to be thankful, but this should extend past the Thanksgiving table. Gratitude is good for us. Feeling grateful every day is an attitude.

When you sit down with your loved ones for Thanksgiving dinner, be thankful for what and who you have been blessed with in your life. Cherish time spent together. Soak up the day and create new memories. Then, when the day is done, find ways to be grateful as a part of your daily routine.

Here are a few easy ways to work gratitude into your daily life:

  1. Spend time with family and friends. Schedule time to spend with those you love not just during the holidays but as often as you can. If family and friends live out of town, plan time to catch up over the phone, by texting, on Facebook, on Skype, or any other method that works. Life can change in an instant, so be grateful for time spent with those you care about.
  1. Volunteer. There is no greater gift you can give than by lending a hand. I look for volunteer opportunities once each quarter. This way, I am involved in my community at least 4 times a year. The community is grateful for your time and you will be thankful for the opportunity.
  1. Empower yourself. Instead of expecting the worst from life, expect the best! Take charge of your own destiny. Be thankful for every day you open your eyes and have the opportunity to do something wonderful!

Wishing each of you a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and I am so thankful to be a part of the Every Woman Blog family!

Give Thanks for Leggings and Salsa (And Some Other Important Stuff)

By: Lara Winburn

Thick-and-Chunky-Salsa1I am very blessed, and I am thankful every day for my life’s many gifts. I am thankful for the best friend and partner that I am married to, the precious babies that call me “mommy,” a best friend that keeps me sane, a good job with good people, a roof over my head, and many sweet friends strung around the world that keep me updated with their many “statuses.”

But there are a few things that I am thankful for that are a little less traditional. Maybe they’re even a little trivial, but worth giving thanks for all the same.

In the World of Fashion

I am thankful…

…for the wedge. I am 5’4 and have no tolerance for uncomfortable stilettos.

… that leggings and tunics are still on trend (not just skinny jeans). I am especially thankful for those this Thursday around 3 p.m.

…for the long and flowing maxi dresses (see craft beer and chips & salsa below).

In My Mommy World

I am thankful for…

…that time between 8:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. when both kids are asleep and truly look like cherubs.

…the “sleep sheep” (though I will never understand, nor be able to explain, why that sheep can make a whale sound).

…more modern technology: DVD’s in the backseat on long road trips.

In Some Space and Time

I am thankful for…

…when I can visit the restroom alone, not necessarily for any particular reason, just to grab a moment to be alone.

…the ride from daycare to work when I am quiet and optimistic that today will be the day that I am organized, thoughtful, and full of grace….before reality sets in as I realize I have on different shoes or forgot to sign a permission slip.

In the Kitchen

I am thankful for…

…chips and salsa, salty enough to make my hands swell.

…caffeine to help with the less-than-cherub times – normally between 2 a.m.- 4 a.m. –with my one-year-old. Sometimes he hates sleep and me.

…the emergence of craft beer (see forgiving fashion trends above).

…the occasional cold Diet Coke, so fizzy it burns. Please do not tell me how bad they are for me; it falls on deaf ears and the damage is done.

I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with all of the big things: love, family, and time together. I also wish you a side of quiet time with long naps, stretchy sorta-pants, and a craft beer –  or at the very least, a quiet trip to the bathroom and enough caffeine to keep you going.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Reality Check

By: Shannon Shull

Lately I have been experiencing some major reality checks. My life stays so busy, and I am so stressed and overwhelmed that even when I sleep at night, I wake up exhausted from my crazy dreams. I have experienced major professional growth since I started teaching full time in the public school system. I wouldn’t take back any of the knowledge, experience and joy I have gained from my time teaching thus far, because I am a better person and certainly a better teacher for experiencing it. BUT – and here’s the big “but” – I’ve also gained about 10 pounds, sprouted way too many grey hairs, and feel like I’ve aged 10 years! I’ve only been teaching full time for a year and a half now! Folks, that’s sad! No lie, I have been more exhausted and overwhelmed than words can express.

time management

I know I am not the first person to declare that teachers are incredibly overworked and underpaid. I envy those that can go to work and leave it there – their work doesn’t follow them home, keeping them up during early mornings and late nights in an attempt to stay on top of everything. Those that think teachers have it made (thinking we get off work at 2 or 3:30 p.m. and get summers off) are clueless as to what the life of a teacher is really like. We don’t just show up, teach a few classes, and leave; it is way more involved than that! The required trainings, meetings, evaluations, and duties alone sometimes feel like a full time job.

shannon shull

What’s been so tough for me is that I was in the best shape of my life. I was teaching Zumba and Aqua Zumba classes throughout the week and getting tons of exercise, which resulted in me sleeping well, feeling good, and coping with incredible stress in my life without meds. Once I started teaching middle school full time, the health focus fell by the wayside something fierce. I had to stop teaching my regular Zumba and Aqua Zumba classes because I just flat-out did not have the time nor energy after teaching a full day. I have become a perfect example of not practicing what I preach! I know that if I could figure out how to squeeze in exercise, I would feel so much better on so many levels. Yet after an incredibly long day of being up since 5 a.m., teaching 170 middle school students within one day, making the long drive home, and then working to prepare lessons, the thought of having to add something else into my already-packed schedule seems to put my sanity levels at risk!

Obviously, my biggest challenge is time management. And I have absolutely got to figure out a way to make things work, because the utter truth is that I will feel better, sleep better and look better if I just make the exercise happen. So I’m asking you to hold me accountable! Email me, text me, Facebook me, ask me in person – “Shannon, did you squeeze in some exercise this week???!!!” If you have any tricks and tips on how you manage a busy career without losing focus on your health, please do share!

A Happy Pre-Thanksgiving

By: Chaunte McClure

In less than a week, airports will be packed, grocery stores will be super busy, and families will be preparing a heaping helping of turkey, dressing, ham, green beans, pumpkin pies, velvety mashed potatoes and other traditional delicacies to enjoy together at the dining room table on Thanksgiving Day. Well, that’ll be the routine for most families…

There are those who are less fortunate and won’t have the privilege to prepare a meal, have dinner at someone’s home or perhaps even have a meal. The kind people of Keepin’ It Real Ministries recognized this sad reality and did something about it. Last Sunday, the organization, with the help of volunteers, served a pre-Thanksgiving dinner to more than 400 homeless men and women, and a few children, at Columbia’s Finlay Park.

Keepin’ It Real Ministries

Keepin’ It Real Ministries

Seeing the homeless kids really tugged at my heart and I couldn’t help myself but to get down to their level to strike a conversation. Although they had little say, it was obvious that what they had just received meant a lot to them. Their faces lit up like a child’s does on Christmas morning when he or she opens gifts, and all it took was a plate of warm food, a backpack and people willing to make it happen. That’s ministry. God wants us to be among those who are suffering so we can be ministers for Jesus Christ.

The more than two hours spent in the cold organizing, plating food and distributing backpacks were worth the smiles I saw and the expressions of gratitude I heard.

Keepin’ It Real Ministries

Keepin’ It Real Ministries

Whenever I participate in this type of mission, I always have to thank God. Lord, thank You for the roof I have over my head. Thank You for the food I can eat daily. To be in the presence of so many people who don’t have a place to stay really helps me appreciate the state I’m in, even if I think it’s not the best.

Keepin’ It Real Ministries

Keepin’ It Real Ministries

As we enter the holiday season, I hope you will find opportunities in your community to serve. Keepin’ It Real Ministries will serve dinner to the homeless again on Christmas Day and the ministry is in need of volunteers. Will you help? The Christmas meal will be served at the Sumter Street Transit Station on the corner of Sumter and Laurel Streets at 4 p.m. If you’re interested, give Oscar Gadsden a call at (803) 406-0724 and let him know you want to help.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Lemon Glazed Chicken Tenders

By: Brady Evans 

Some would see it as a perk: living pretty far away from any take-out options.  No sabotaging your diet with fast food.  No temptation to be lazy.  No wasted money on ready-made food when you have a full pantry…

Others, like my husband, would see it as punishment.

I am always all for cooking at home when the other option is going to town for dinner.  Spending over an hour in the car just to eat just isn’t efficient.  My husband doesn’t seem to care as much but that’s probably because he does the dishes.  Going out to eat = less work for him.

Lemon Glazed Chicken Tenders

When I decided to make this meal he was really, really bucking for a meal out.  By the time we would have gotten to the restaurant these delicious lemon glazed Asian chicken tenders were on the table.  They were sweet and sticky and sour.  Just delicious!  For leftovers they made an awesome Asian-inspired wrap.  Make these as guilt-full or guilt-free as you feel by either deep frying or baking chicken tenders (frozen or homemade!).

Lemon Glazed Chicken Tenders (Adapted from Damn Delicious via Stephanie Cooks)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound chicken tenders, cooked to your preference
  • Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • Diced green onions (optional)

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Combine the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and allow to simmer on low for 10 minutes, until slightly thickened.
  • Arrange cooked chicken tenders in an oven-safe baking dish. Pour the sauce over top, flipping so both sides are coated. Bake 10 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and dish is warmed through. Top with scallions, if desired.

The Skinny on Juice Cleanses

By: Morgan Robbins, RD, LD at Lexington Medical Center

Cleansing is the red-hot health trend sweeping the world by storm. Checking Instagram, I see pictures posted by friends and celebrities with a rainbow of juices in their refrigerator and a caption talking about starting a cleanse. I often overhear conversations of people thinking about starting a cleanse because they feel sluggish or have been eating poorly. “Cleansing” the body of toxins, chemicals and impurities sounds appealing to most people, but are the claims accurate?

juice cleansesThe 411-
There are many different cleanses. The celeb-endorsed juice cleanses are most popular. Most juice cleanses consist of a series of juices to drink during the day for a set period of time, usually 3-14 days. Some cleanses allow foods while others do not. They range from $20-$70 per day. There are also cleansing options that come in pill form and are to be consumed with a healthy diet.

The Claims-
Rid your body of toxins, weight loss, improved energy levels, increase fruit and vegetable intake, reduce inflammation, reset the digestive system, strengthen your immune system and glowing hair and skin. Drinking juice for a few days to boost the immune system and improve energy levels? Sounds like a good bargain to me.

The Science-
The scientific evidence is lacking to prove that one will reap the sworn benefits that are promised while cleansing. The thing most juice bottles leave off the label is that the kidneys, liver and intestines do an excellent job of filtering out the garbage we put into our body. Will you lose weight? Probably yes. However, if you go back to eating the way you were before the cleanse, you’re more than likely going to gain the weight back and could possibly slow down your metabolism in the process. Supplementing a healthy diet with a juice drink will likely cause no harm, but there is needed research regarding juice cleanses.

Thoughts-
Until there is solid scientific evidence about juice cleanses and their effect on the body, I would recommend thinking twice before taking another swig of your green juice as your sole dietary intake for the day. Skip the juice, skip the diet and just eat healthy. It’s really quite simple. There is truth behind the saying “you are what you eat.” If you eat well, you’ll feel well. Keep in mind, some cleanses contain a high amount of sugar and minimal fiber. Often people are looking for shortcuts and quick methods for weight loss, however healthy eating will always be the gold standard for living a healthy lifestyle.

Source: http://www.webmd.com/diet/detox-diets

Fried Green Tomatoes

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

I grew up here in South Carolina. I consider South Carolina to be pretty solidly Southern. We embrace grits, chicken bog, good barbeque, okra and Frogmore stew. However, until the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes” came out, I’d never, ever, ever heard of this food. I grew up with plenty of people who would eat tomatoes right off the vine, juice dripping all down their forearms. I had countless friends who dream of sliced tomatoes and lots of mayo on white bread. And only in the South do you find gorgeous, sliced red tomatoes on green tomatoesa menu as a side dish. But green tomatoes? No one ate green tomatoes. In fact, as a toddler, I committed the world’s worst transgression when I picked them all, piled them up and then happily showed off my dad’s prized unripe bumper crop exclaiming “Look daddy, green balls!” He. was. not. pleased.

So, this movie comes along and I must admit, I was instantly curious. But, again, I knew no one who ate this crazy dish. I wondered, “Are they just regular old green balls, or some odd variety of tomato that is green when ripe?” Then one day, the (old) Rockaway’s started offering them on the menu. Without hesitation, I ordered some. I was an instant fan. The tomatoes were firm and tart. The outside was crisp and laced with black pepper. They were just heavenly. I ordered them every time we went there. But alas, one night Rockaway’s burned to the ground. The entire city mourned. After many months of lamenting the lack of availability of the Rockaway burger, crawfish etouffe and fried green tomatoes, the new Rockaway’s opened. That was many years ago. The burgers are back, the chicken salad is back, the cheese fries are back, but to this day, the fried greens still haven’t made it back onto the menu.

So what’s a girl to do but take matters into her own hands? That’s right, grow them yourself. This summer I planted a traditional beefsteak tomato and an heirloom variety known as “Mr. Stripey.” I’ve concluded that next year I need to have Clemson analyze a soil sample for me. Both plants grew to over 8 feet tall. Early on, they bloomed their hearts out, but produced no fruit. Finally, some small tomatoes surfaced on each plant, but they never got very big. We were able to harvest a few, but certainly not the kind of summer tomato crop that we’re used to getting around here. Since we’ve entered fall, they are now producing tons of baby tomatoes. I look at them every day wondering when the frost might sneak up on us and kill them. So, today, I picked a couple and decided to fry them up for lunch.

fried green tomatoesI dredged in corn starch, then egg wash, then back into a mixture of corn meal, flour & pepper. I cooked them in canola oil until nice and crispy and golden. Now, if you eat fried green tomatoes, you know that some salt & pepper is really all they need. However, today I had a bonus item in my fridge…leftover sriracha crème sauce from my salmon dish last night. I drizzled some of the crème sauce over the tomatoes. Shaazam! I Just perfected the fried green tomato. Mix up some mayo, sriracha & condensed milk to make this sauce. It adds a nice, slightly-sweet, zingy spice. You’ll thank me.

Elizabeth writes “Gastronomy (by a Wanna-be Chef)” and loves followers and comments. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Eat, drink and be merry!